" Football encourages some deep tremor of romance about what it means to be a man — even, it should be said, among the sport’s many female fans. Save for the military — with which it has a symbioticrelationship — the NFL is the biggest and strongest exponent of American masculinity.
And integral to that notion of American masculinity is violence. Football is our culture’s great spectacle of violence, our version of the gladiatorial games of ancient Rome. You can see signs of football’s celebration of amped-up manhood in the pageantry of our own bread and circuses: the military jet flyovers, the Built Ford Tough commercials, the shiny uniforms, the amplified crunching sound of hard hits, the big-knotted ties, and the pregame show special effects that seem like something out of Transformers 12. You can see it in the silver gladiator mask that Terrell Suggs wore during the pregame introductions when the Ravens played the Steelers last Thursday. But those are only symptoms. Get rid of the truck commercials, get rid of the gun salutes, and you’d still have the violence on the field. Get rid of the gladiator mask, and you’d still have Suggs. “